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The details are still a bit murky, but apparently the text of the draft regulation introducing the possibility of export controls circulated to other Commissioners didn't include the offending reference to A. 16. It was, allegedly, a last minute inclusion, introduced at a technical level, when someone pointed out the risk of vaccines leaking across the Irish land border.

This may all be self-serving nonsense, of course, but it may be that Valdis Dombrovskis, EU Trade Commissioner, was the only senior official to see it before it went "live". If this is the case, it would be surprising as Dombrovskis is the co-chair of a joint EU/UK committtee with Michael Gove overseeing the operation of the N. Ireland protocol, and would have been aware of the political sensitivities.

If this story is to be believed, the final text was only e-mailed to relevant officials, working from home, 30 minutes before it was officially adopted under an emergency procedure. It's not surprising that some officials, reading a dense text for the first time, didn't get to the offending paragraph in time, even if they had begun reading it immediately on receipt.

In any case it was retracted within hours, following frantic phone calls between Michael Martin and Ursula VD Leyen, and shouldn't be regraded as much more of an administrative SNAFU quickly corrected. This has not prevented Brexiteers and unionists trying to turn it into a major international incident. I also don't think it reflects badly on Ursula VD Leyen personally, as she would have been relying on her staff to deal with such matters.

So whatever you might think of Ursula VD Leyen for other reasons, blaming her for this is confirmation bias, except in the purely formal sense that she is ultimately responsible for everything the Commission does.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Feb 8th, 2021 at 11:19:14 AM EST
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